Jan 16

Three Common Mistakes Owners Make During Dog Training

dog training

Max & Molly

Dog ownership brings us a lot of pleasure, but it requires a great deal of responsibility as well.  Along with feeding and exercise, training is a big part of that responsibility.

Studies have shown that most dogs in shelters are there because of behavioral issues.  Some of these dogs have been through training programs and some have not.  Changing a few things can prevent many of these dogs from ending up in she

lters.  The obvious is training your dog properly. The not so obvious is a couple of simple changes owners can make in their own training program.

Several things I see in training classes that prevent owners and their dogs from reaching their goals are their are lack of patience, lack of consistency and lack of practice.

These three items are the biggest reasons many dogs don’t learn proper manners and may eventually be given up due to behavior problems.  One of my dogs came to me as a result of a complete lack of training as well as an inconsistency in the way the owners dealt with what I like to call “undesirable behaviors”.  I call them “undesirable” because he is a dog and they are normal for a dog.

Dealing with behaviors on a consistent basis is extremely important.  For instance, if your dog barks when the doorbell rings and you ignore it one time and scold him the next, you are sending mixed signals.  Is it okay or isn’t it?

Consistency with training commands is another area where I have seen many owners confuse their dogs. Many owners use the word down when they want their dog to lie down and also when he jumps on them. While we have the mental capacity to understand that it means something different in each case, our dogs do not. So, we must choose a word for each command and use that word only.

Furthermore, the lack of patience is another common mistake owners make.  Dogs are extremely smart and are very social. Very few want to lead a pack.  They will if they do not have a patient and confident leader. In my opinion, showing a lack of patience toward our dogs can result in a lack of confidence in our dogs as well as ourselves.

Each dog is an individual.  Some may take longer to learn than others.  If I feel myself becoming impatient when teaching a command, I have my dog perform a command that he knows well, give him a treat and end the session.  I then rethink my strategy and determine another method to teach the command. I can also break it down into smaller steps and try again during the next session.  Never, ever end a training session on a bad note. Always end on a positive note.

In addition to consistency and patience, training takes time!  In every class I teach, I can identify the owners that are not practicing outside of class.  It takes time and regular practice sessions to have a well-trained dog.  Many owners use the excuse that they don’t have time to train at home. Most trainers will tell you to keep your training sessions short and.  All you need is five minutes here and five minutes there along with a few dog treats to practice. If you watch television at all, you can find about fifteen to twenty minutes during a one-hour program to train your dog.  Most of us don’t watch commercials. That can be the perfect time for three to five training sessions during your favorite program!

When I mention commercials as training time in classes, I always get the same question “What can I teach in that time?”  My dogs were taught Sit, Down, Leave, Stay, Shake, Speak and countless other commands while I watched the news or baseball games.

In closing, many of us look at training as a chore.  If you stay consistent, have a lot of patience and practice; it can be a fun and extremely rewarding experience.  Remember, training helps build an unbreakable bond between you and your dog.


  1. Lindsay

    You’d think people could come up with 10 minutes every day to train their dogs, but they just don’t.

    People are also just not consistent, as you pointed out. How many different words or phrases do we use for telling our dogs to stop barking?

    “No bark! Quiet! Hey! No! Stop that! Lie down!”


    Another thing that irritates me is how people will repeat a command nine or 10 times while their dog ignores them. Just put your dog into a sit the first time and give him the treat.

    1. rtouhey

      As you say, many people are not consistent in the words they choose or how my times they say them. I watch closely for owners repeating words in my classes. I have actually seen dogs learn to sit after the third repitition of the word. They are consistent, owner says sit……Sit……SIT, their dog sits.

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